|Publication number||US6900556 B2|
|Application number||US 10/341,125|
|Publication date||May 31, 2005|
|Filing date||Jan 13, 2003|
|Priority date||Oct 10, 2000|
|Also published as||CA2405812A1, CA2405812C, CN1650505A, EP1332546A1, EP1332546A4, US6522031, US20020041126, US20030160595, WO2002031954A1|
|Publication number||10341125, 341125, US 6900556 B2, US 6900556B2, US-B2-6900556, US6900556 B2, US6900556B2|
|Inventors||John H. Provanzana, John M. Schneider, Ali Nourai, Warren W. Walborn, Brendan J. Ware|
|Original Assignee||American Electric Power Company, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (39), Non-Patent Citations (1), Referenced by (43), Classifications (31), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/974,240, filed Oct. 10, 2001, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,522,031, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/239,560, filed on Oct. 10, 2000, both of which are expressly incorporated herein by reference.
The present invention relates generally to electrical energy supply and distribution, and more particularly, to a power load leveling system including energy packet storage components. Electrical energy generation and distribution has been a mainstay for residential and commercial energy needs for societies all over the world for many years. Various forms of electrical energy generation have existed for some time now, including coal fired power plants, nuclear power plants, hydroelectric plants, wind harness plants, and others. All of these forms of electrical energy generation are well known to those of skill in the art of power generation and details of their operation need not be set forth herein. Many volumes of published literature exist on all of these well known forms of electrical power generation, from sources all over the world.
As power generation has advanced power usage has increased. This is due to many societal factors. First, populations in practically every country of the world have increased, resulting in more power needs. Second, consumer products frequently are designed to use electrical energy in order to operate. Due to advances in technology, more electronic products are available for use today than at any time in world history. Third, manufacturing plants have realized that machine automation can increase plant productivity and decrease production costs. Such automation usually requires electrical energy. Thus, the overall result is a greater need for electrical energy than ever before.
Another common occurrence around the world related to energy consumption, is that consumption is greater during certain hours of the day. In any given time zone, electrical energy usage is greatest during the hours of 6 AM and 10 PM, commonly referred to as the “awake hours” or waking hours. Between 10 PM and 6 AM the next day most people are sleeping and, therefore, using less electrical energy. These hours are commonly called the “sleeping hours”. In order to avoid energy “brownouts”, or worse yet “blackouts”, power companies have to be able to meet “peak demand” requirements of any given 24 hour day. These peak demand requirements occur during the awake hours and historical data obtained from tracking energy usage can fairly accurately predict how much energy will be needed each hour of each day in practically any community. Therefore, peak demand is one of the main drivers of the size and number of power plants needed for any given area.
The problem with using peak demand requirements to determine power plant capacity, is that it does not make for efficient use of the resulting power plant. For example, if a peak demand period in a given area is X kilowatt-hours and that demand is only required for a period of eight hours each day, and the average demand for the rest of the day is half of X, then the design capacity of that power plant for the other sixteen hours of each day is not being effectively utilized. Said another way, if the full energy production capacity of each power plant, for each day, was utilized, less power plants would be needed because each one would be fully utilized, all day, every day. Design and usage could then be based on total energy needs each day rather than peak demand needs. Using peak demand requirements also results in an inefficient use of the distribution and transmission systems used by the power plants to deliver the electrical energy they produce.
The present invention enables power load leveling throughout each day. Load leveling is the balancing of energy production at a power plant so that the plant is generating about the same amount of energy for all hours of operation, while supplying its customers with their full energy needs throughout the day. Since peak demand periods will likely continue to exist, load leveling may be accomplished by the use of energy storage devices. In other words, by producing energy and storing that energy during low demand periods, such as during sleeping hours, the stored energy can be used during peak demand periods to offset the amount of energy that must be produced during the peak demand periods.
In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, energy production is made more level throughout each day. At night, for example, energy is produced and stored in specialized capacitors, which may be located at or near a power plant or a power substation, for example. The next day the stored energy may be injected into a utility's power distribution and transmission grid to supply all or part of the energy needs in, for example, a given home, business, or area that is connected thereto. By using the stored energy during peak demand periods, less energy is needed in real time production from the power plant servicing that area. In other embodiments of the present invention, the capacitors may be constructed to be placed in a home, such as in a basement or nearby out building. Larger capacitor-based energy storage systems may be placed in or near a business office or factory. Conversely, it is also possible to produce such systems on a smaller scale for installation at individual loads, such as, for example, in copy machines, PC's, servers, or a multitude of other equipment that requires a supply of electrical energy to operate. Preferably, whether the capacitor-based energy storage systems are placed near the end user of the system or at a power production or distribution location, the systems are of modular construction to allow for efficient set-up, expansion, and repair. Modularity is preferably maintained at both the source and load side of each system. In any of these embodiments, the present invention enables stored electrical energy to be used during peak demand periods to lessen the reliance on real time, direct electrical energy supplied and distributed by a power plant.
The present invention may be accomplished by conventional energy distribution equipment being connected to capacitors of high energy storage capability, wherein the capacitors may be “charged” with energy produced at a power plant as often as desired. The power plant that supplies the charging energy to the capacitors may be a conventional fossil-fuel burning or nuclear power plant, or may consist of an alternate power source, such as, for example, a solar, wind, or hydroelectric source. Unlike known energy storage systems, such as battery storage systems, the capacitors of the present invention allow for the direct storage of large amounts of electrical energy. Capacitors are electrostatic devices that can store and transfer electrical energy directly and, as such, do not require the transpiration of a chemical reaction in order to generate electrical energy, as do batteries. Additional conventional electrical equipment may be used to connect the capacitor(s) to the home, business, or area being serviced, and to transfer the electrical energy from the charged capacitor(s) to an end use. The electrical energy supplied by the capacitors may be delivered in DC form, or may be delivered as single-phase or multi-phase AC. Converter/inverter equipment is preferably provided to properly alter the form of the electrical energy provided to, and drawn from, the capacitors.
In the present invention, specialized capacitors are used to facilitate the above-described system. In one embodiment of the present invention, the capacitor may be of the electrochemical variety, and either symmetrical or asymmetrical in design. The electrochemical capacitor enables significant, direct electrical energy storage in heretofore unmatched, small unit sizes. Other embodiments of the present invention may employ, for example, electrolytic, or cryogenic capacitors that can also provide the desired energy storage.
An inherent benefit of the present invention is the ability to substantially reduce or even eliminate anomalies such as power “surges”, “spikes”, and “skips”, thereby improving what is generally referred to as “power quality”. These phenomena are the unfortunate, and practically unavoidable result of moving electrical energy (i.e., electrons) over miles of distribution and transmission lines to end users. Power quality problems can occur for a number of reasons including, for example, electrical system design errors, electrical system construction errors, grounding errors, harmonics and load interactions. While these anomalies are not very common when one considers the total amount of energy delivered each day to any area, they nevertheless can result in significant problems for end users. For example, in this age of computer usage, an energy spike or skip, however brief, can cause electronic documents to be lost, or worse yet, can cause computer system damage. In contrast to the concept of electrical energy storage described above, the electrical energy that must be provided for maintaining power quality is extremely brief in duration. For example, it has been found that most power quality phenomenon occurs within 1 AC cycle or less, and that 10 cycles is usually more than sufficient to relax any momentary disturbance in the supply voltage. Thus, for purposes of the present application, power quality maintenance or improvement is generally defined to mean the ability of the present invention to provide a required level of power output for 1 second or less. When used for power quality purposes, the electrical energy stored in the capacitor(s) is preferably not depleted. This function is converse to the electrical energy storage function, wherein the energy storage system of the present invention may be operated to provide substantially more long-term power to a load or loads, and wherein the capacitor(s) may be discharged until the energy reserves thereof are substantially depleted or until manually shut off. Thus, although electrical energy storage and power quality maintenance are distinguishable tasks, the system of the present invention can operate to effectuate both. For example, one embodiment of the present invention provides an on-site capacitor(s) to directly service the energy needs of that site using stored energy instead of real-time, direct supply energy. The use of the stored energy from the capacitor(s) may be used not only to supply the power requirements of loads at the site, but may also be used to ensure power quality through the short duration discharge of electrical energy in response to power quality disturbances. Similarly, an off-site system according to the present invention may be used to achieve the same effect. Consequently, it should be realized by one skilled in the art that the system of the present invention may typically be collaterally utilized to maintain and improve power quality.
In addition to the novel features and advantages mentioned above, other objects and advantages of the present invention will be readily apparent from the following descriptions of the drawings and exemplary embodiments, wherein like reference numerals across the several views refer to identical or equivalent features, and wherein:
Referring now to the drawings and
A commercial application of the present invention can be observed by reference to FIG. 2. In such an application, one or more capacitor storage devices 150 (which may, but do not have to be, larger in size than the capacitor storage devices used at a residence) may be placed at or near a business 160 to supply all or a portion of the energy needs thereof during a typical business day. The capacitor storage devices 150 may be adapted to provide either single-phase or three-phase power to the business 160. Such a business use of the present invention may allow for more flexibility, since businesses may tend to have more room for larger capacitors either inside a main building structure 170 or inside, for example, a secondary building 180.
As in the embodiment of
The group of capacitor storage devices 250 shown in
Particular capacitors suitable for use in the present invention will now be described in greater detail with specific reference to
As illustrated in
In the particular embodiment of the present invention illustrated in
The capacitor(s), whatever the design thereof, may receive its energy charge through an AC-DC converter 500 connected to a utility's power distribution and transmission grid 510. Preferably, a bi-directional DC-DC converter 520 is also utilized to accept a DC input from the converter 500 and to provide a regulated DC output to the capacitor(s) for accomplishing the charging thereof. The bi-directional DC-DC converter 520 is preferably also able to transform DC output from the capacitor(s) into a higher DC voltage before conversion to AC voltage by a DC-AC inverter 530. Optionally, the capacitor(s) may output DC voltage to DC electrical devices, without the need for AC/DC conversion. The DC-AC inverter 530 is used to when it is desired to convert the DC output of the capacitor(s) into AC power for delivery to a load.
The system of the present invention can be designed to operate in two basic modes. As can be seen in
Control equipment 80 (
The control equipment 80 and central control device 90 may perform multiple functions. For example, the control equipment 80 and central control device 90 may operate to monitor the fluctuating cost of electrical energy, and to switch between utility supplied electrical energy and stored electrical energy as necessary to maximize cost savings. For example, if the cost of purchasing electrical energy rises dramatically on a given day or over a period of days, but is predicted to drop thereafter, the control equipment may be signaled to connect a charged capacitor storage device or group of charged capacitor storage devices to a load in order to supply the necessary electrical energy thereto, while simultaneously disconnecting the load from the utility's power grid. Thereafter, the capacitor storage devices may supply the required electrical energy to the load until the cost of the electrical energy drops, wherein the load may be reconnected to the utility's power grid and the capacitor storage devices may be recharged. The electrical energy stored in the capacitor storage devices could also be sold to other utilities or, in the case of customer owned systems, may be sold to the supplying utility, other utilities, or other consumers. In the case where electrical energy stored in customer owned systems can be sold back to the generating utility or to another party, the customer may be equipped with a specialized electric meter that can credit the sale of stored electrical energy against the electrical energy the customer has drawn from the utility.
In response to a shortage of electrical energy, the control equipment 80 and central control device 90 may also operate to allocate the distribution of stored electrical energy from one or more capacitor storage devices at one or more locations experiencing the shortage. For example, if a power plant of a utility must be shut down for maintenance or repair, the electrical energy normally supplied by that power plant must be obtained from alternate sources. To this end, the control equipment 80 and central control device 90 may act to determine what areas need to be supplied with electrical energy from alternate sources, and what sources of alternate electrical energy are available. The control equipment 80 and central control device 90 may then act to draw stored electrical energy from one or more capacitor storage devices and to distribute the electrical energy to the areas in need thereof. Such a function may also be performed, for example, when the demand for electrical energy exceeds the supply from traditional sources—such as during peak demand periods.
Once the capacitor storage devices of the present invention are discharged, they must be re-supplied with electrical energy so that they may again be discharged at a later time. The control equipment 80 and central control device 90 can also perform this function. The control equipment 80 and central control device 90 can monitor the status of the capacitor storage devices, as well as the demand on the power grid with which they communicate, in order to determine the optimum time to deliver electrical energy to the capacitor storage devices for the recharging thereof. Preferably, recharging of the capacitor storage devices will take place during off-peak periods, however, other factors such as, for example, the charge level of the capacitor storage devices and the current cost of the electrical energy may also affect the decision to provide a recharge.
Preferably the control equipment 80 and central control device 90 employs a microprocessor to optimize the charging and discharging of the capacitor storage devices. For example, the central control device 90 may employ a microprocessor to monitor and analyze the fluctuating cost of electrical energy, and to make predictions on whether the cost will increase or decrease, and when. The microprocessor may also be used to assess the demand on a power grid, and to optimize the combined resources of a utility's power generating facilities and the electrical energy stored in capacitor-based storage systems of the present invention. Microprocessors may be used in the control equipment for monitoring the condition of the capacitor storage devices and indicating the status of the capacitor storage devices to the central control device 90. The microprocessors of the central control device 90 and the control equipment 80 may also communicate to determine the optimum time at which the discharging or recharging of the capacitor storage devices should occur.
When one or more capacitor storage devices are placed at a customer's location, as is contemplated by one embodiment of the present invention, the customer may receive a quantity of energy, such as a day's energy needs, preferably, although not necessarily, during non-peak hours. The present invention allows the packets of electrical energy to be scheduled for delivery to the capacitor storage devices so that power plant electrical energy generation can be leveled. For example, energy packet delivery can be scheduled for sleeping hours when other demand is low. In this manner, a utility can dramatically improve its operating efficiencies.
The capacitors of one embodiment of the present invention are now capable of storing electrical energy at a density in excess of 100 joules/cc. With a capacitor rating of 50 joules/cc, stored energy can reach levels of 50 kWh in a 130 cubic foot unit, which is about the size of a cube of 5 feet per side. Thus, at a storage density in excess of 100 joules/cc, the capacitor storage unit will be substantially less than 130 cubic feet in size. Substantially larger units may also be constructed to have substantially larger energy storage ratings. Proportionately larger capacitor storage devices may be used at businesses or may be installed in multiple quantities in an array to offer the same benefits on a larger scale. In another embodiment of the present invention, a “farm” of such capacitors may be installed near a power plant or power substation and used as a major source of stored energy to help supply an energy grid with power each day during peak demand times. Alternatively, such a farm of capacitors may be installed at a location distant from the power plant to help minimize the need for additional transmission line construction. Multiple energy packets may be delivered to the farm each night and the stored energy discharged each day into the utility's power grid as needed.
In addition to the electrical energy storage uses described above, it is foreseen that the system of the present invention may be used to provide electrical or other power to vehicles and other equipment. For example, the capacitor storage devices of the present invention may be used to power automobiles, trucks or light rail systems. In a light rail system, for example, the capacitor storage devices could be used to drive a train or tram from point A to point B and back in a repeating loop. During each stop at point A and point B, the capacitor storage devices could receive a charge of electrical power sufficient to ensure that enough electrical energy is available to get the train to the next point. In such a manner, no power distribution rails or lines would be required to be constructed between point A and point B.
As can be seen from the foregoing, the system of the present invention allows for the efficient, cost effective storage of large quantities of electrical energy. The system can have multiple uses, such as, for example, to provide electrical energy to support load leveling or peak shaving, to supply short term electrical energy to run a household, business or factory, or to provide for power quality management. The system of the present invention allows for electrical energy storage to be accomplished on a larger scale than has been previously possible, while also providing for a storage medium of compact size.
While certain embodiments of the present invention are described in detail above, the scope of the invention is not to be considered limited by such disclosure, and modifications are possible without departing from the spirit of the invention as evidenced by the following claims:
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|U.S. Classification||307/19, 307/9.1, 307/80, 307/18, 307/85, 307/38, 307/66|
|International Classification||G05F1/66, H02J3/32, H02J5/00, H02J3/28, H02J7/34|
|Cooperative Classification||Y10T307/724, Y10T307/305, H02J7/345, Y10T307/313, H02J5/00, H02J3/28, Y10T307/718, Y10T307/461, Y10T307/527, H02J3/32, Y10T307/625, Y10T307/696, Y10T307/707, Y10T307/615, Y10T307/50|
|European Classification||H02J3/28, H02J3/32, H02J5/00, H02J7/34C|
|Oct 24, 2008||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Jan 14, 2013||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|May 31, 2013||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Jul 23, 2013||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20130531